Tweet sparks South­east Asian food fight

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

FOR­MER Eng­land foot­baller Rio Fer­di­nand has un­wit­tingly sparked a cross-bor­der food fight af­ter sug­gest­ing that a rice dish was Sin­ga­porean, to the hor­ror of In­done­sians who claim it as their own.

Fer­di­nand made the food faux pas dur­ing a week­end trip to watch the Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix, when he tweeted a pic­ture of him­self hold­ing a plate of the dish next to the com­ment, “Nasi goreng lunch.. Keep­ing it lo­cal in #Sin­ga­pore”.

Nasi goreng, which lit­er­ally trans­lates as “fried rice” in In­done­sian, gen­er­ally con­sists of rice mixed with a sweet sauce and other in­gre­di­ents such as chilli, veg­eta­bles and chicken, and of­ten topped with a fried egg.

But the sug­ges­tion that the dish was not In­done­sian caused hor­ror in the ar­chi­pel­ago, which is one of Sin­ga­pore’s neigh­bours, and sparked a flood of an­gry tweets.

“M8, its In­done­sian food, ac­tu­ally. There’s no ‘nasi’ and ‘goreng’ in Sin­ga­pore,” Agung Prase­tyo tweeted at Fer­di­nand, while oth­ers in­vited the for­mer Manch­ester United player to their homes to try a dish of real, In­done­sian nasi goreng.

This an­gry re­ac­tion was met with ir­ri­ta­tion in neigh­bour­ing Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia, which have a his­tor­i­cally prickly re­la­tion­ship with Jakarta, with ne­ti­zens claim­ing that fried rice is found in many coun­tries in the re­gion, not solely In­done­sia.

There was par­tic­u­lar an­noy­ance in Sin­ga­pore, with some sug­gest­ing that In­done­sians’ de­fi­ant de­fence of a rice dish was a stark con­trast to its re­fusal to ac­cept the blame for for­est fires on its ter­ri­tory that blan­ket the city-state with haze ev­ery year.

“Oh­hhh nasi goreng can claim but haze can­not,” said Twit­ter user @HarisBRosli.

On Septem­ber 19 Fer­di­nand at­tempted to calm the bick­er­ing un­leashed by his re­mark, com­ment­ing on Twit­ter, “Was there re­ally up­roar with my Nasi goreng tweet??!! Re­lax guys...’lo­cal’ in SE Asia”.

It was just the lat­est bat­tle over culi­nary and cul­tural her­itage be­tween the neigh­bours, whose long shared his­tory does not stop the reg­u­lar flare-up of petty rows.

In 2009 protests erupted out­side the Malaysian em­bassy in Jakarta af­ter Kuala Lumpur was ac­cused of plun­der­ing the ar­chi­pel­ago’s cul­ture when a tra­di­tional dance from the In­done­sian is­land of Bali al­legedly ap­peared in ad­verts pro­mot­ing tourism in Malaysia.

How­ever, it turned out to have stemmed from a mis­un­der­stand­ing – the ad was not a gov­ern­ment-spon­sored pro­mo­tion for tourism but rather a botched trailer for a tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­tary about Malaysia.

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